Working with People and Doing Business in Mexico

Cultural, Legal, Administrative, and Other Practical Considerations

“The survival of mankind will depend to a large extent on the ability of people who think differently to act together.”  -Geert Hofstede

This is the first of a series of articles on the many issues that need to be considered by executives assessing what it’s like to do business in or with Mexico. Our main concern throughout is assisting the executive in working with people, both from the perspective of work/business relationships, and from the practical and cultural propensities that need to be reviewed and dealt with for success by both the US citizen and his/her counterpart.

We will work systematically through the cultural, legal, and other factors that impact business and organizational success. We will detail each factor in turn; this work leads towards creating a methodical and practical technique for making the “paradigm” shift necessary for success in the executive’s approach to decision-making.

The executive must find the balance between consistency and adaptation when dealing with people and practical business problems. This is essential for corporate success. The executive who can adapt the organization to the characteristics and locality of the market, law, administrative and compliance matters, and cultural systems of Mexico is the one who will be successful.

Put another way, the executive who can manage and make the “paradigm shift” will more often than not be successful, adapting but at the same time not compromising their own business values and beliefs.

Start with the Premise that Cultural Awareness Affects Business Success

Let’s keep it simple:

  • Culture can be defined as “collective programming of the mind”, defining the way people interact, solve problems, and generally how they live their lives.
  • The values, attitudes, norms, and traditions, of people shape the way they live and conduct business.
  • These things are not always visible on the surface when working and talking with people.
  • Culture can be thought of “patterned ways of thinking, feeling, and reacting”; this is acquired in youth, and is transmitted mainly by symbols, ideas, and accompanying values.
  • Remember that technology works the same everywhere; but this is not so when people interact, and especially when people from different “cultures” interact.
  • The executive who doesn’t pay attention or consider these ideas, risks the “silent” forces of culture to operate in a destructive fashion, biting at the roots of centrally developed methods which do not “fit” locally.
  • Cutting to the chase: the consequences of culture mean that there are differences in Work-Related Values. Believe it and adapt.